September 10, 2009

Act Like You Can't Tell Who Made This

Why is it that when I have the most things to report...I fall off the blogging beam? For that matter, the best parties are the ones of which I have the fewest photographs.


Tomorrow I'll travel to New York and meet with my editor at Crown before the Boog City reading. It'll be a chance to get feedback on the first portion of the nonfiction book--correcting the course, if needed, before I stray too far from the balance of memoir and journalism that is demanded by the topic of food allergies. Receiving feedback in person can be great when it's in expansive, elastic terms. It's excruciating in terms of line edits. Why didn't we realize that back in the days of MFA workshop, and curb our feedback accordingly? Seems so clear in hindsight.


Remember my misguided efforts to track down a certain Pulitzer-winning author in her Queens apartment? Well, the profile is finally out in Columns, the Alumni Magazine of the University of Washington, which is pretty damn exciting--my first cover story. An excerpt:

"Forget the farmhouse with its wide veranda. Forget the fields of corn so often used to evoke Iowa City, where Marilynne Robinson spends most of each year as a fiction professor at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Picture instead an apartment complex in Queens, complete with mesh security gate, the cheerfully bedraggled bushes of a community courtyard, and four flights of narrow stairs.

For a few months, Robinson, '68, '77, is calling this place home—not as a Pulitzer Prize-winning author but as a grandmother, temporarily relocated to New York to spend all the time she can with her first grandchild. "A girl," she says happily. Joseph, one of Robinson's two sons, lives just a few floors away. Her walk-up apartment has the endearing sparseness of a grad student's pad: one overflowing bookshelf with volumes crammed in sideways (Junot Diaz, Ernest Hemingway, The Swan); a rice paper screen draped in white Christmas lights; an oil-and-photo collage, provenance unknown, salvaged from an antique store.

A square of bare floor marks where the breakfast nook's table and chair should be. She admits this has been on her mind. She's losing out on the opportunity to sit and gaze out at the galley kitchen's view of … well, actually, a view of the neighbors' exhaust vents. "Oh," she says, 'but the morning light is lovely.'"

You can find the rest here.


Good news for two worthy poets: Oliver de la Paz and Louise Mathias!


Clinging to summer? An awesome recipe for watermelon salsa:


2 cups chopped watermelon (seeds removed)
3/4 cup chopped Walla Walla Sweet Onion (any white onion will do)
3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped seeded jalapeno chilies
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir together all ingredients in bowl, Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hour to blend flavors before serving.

...I thought the idea of cold, wet fruit in salsa would be...well, a little gross. I got over it, and ended up eating a huge portion. Highly recommended: using a can of Trader Joe's Cuban-style black beans (which blends in a bit of cumin and garlic), and serving with TJ's Corn Chip Dippers. That store owes me an endorsement fee.


Jean Valentine interviews Kate Greenstreet (courtesy Bookslut) Kate earned her place in the rockstar "promoting your first book" hall o' fame when the rumor spread that she'd mortgaged her house to support an extensive reading tour for case sensitive. I don't know if that's the exact truth, but if so it was a worthy investment: the woman gives a great reading. This interview coincides with Ahsahta's release of her second book, The Last 4 Things.

It's particularly welcome to see her in conversation with Jean Valentine, who I'll host at the Arts Club of Washington next week:

Wednesday, September 16 - 7 PM

The Arts Club hosts Jean Valentine and Dave Smith for a celebration of the influential Southern poet Eleanor Ross Taylor, in conjunction with the release of Taylor’s Captive Voices: New and Selected Poems, 1960-2008. Valentine is the current State Poet of New York; Smith is the author of 20 books of poetry and prose. Both will read selections from Taylor’s work as well as their own. Open to the public, with a reception and booksigning to follow.

Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I Street NW, DC. (Farragut West Metro, Orange/Blue line)


Listening to Kanye West as I write this. In case you were wondering.

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